Market Topics

Your Business


Have you noticed that some managers are able to handle critical problems better than others, even when it seems that chaos surrounds them? Somehow, these individuals have developed the ability to filter out unrelated background noise and concentrate single-mindedly on the most urgent task at hand. While thus engaged, they do not allow themselves to be distracted. Finding the best solution to a particular question or dilemma is paramount, and multitasking, which may be useful at other times, is not an option.

Compartmentalizing is the knack of being able to divide problems into separate categories, one of which can then be worked on separately to the exclusion of the others. In effect, a wall is built around a specific issue, and consideration of all other issues is secondary until that one has been resolved. Executives and professionals who have developed the capability to compartmentalize use this as a powerful tool.

You may know people who have the ability to compartmentalize their lives in much the same manner. Someone who has a terrible personal life may still be able to come to work and do an adequate job by temporarily putting personal problems aside and compartmentalizing.

So how do you, as a manager, learn to compartmentalize? It takes a lot of practice, and its not easy. But developing the technique could be a lifesaver. Try this exercise:

1. Let your boss know that youre going to practice compartmentalizing; you may need his or her cooperation.

2. Sit down and make a list of the opportunities and problems which currently confront you. Try not to include the petty ones.

3. Prioritize those issues. If resolved, which ones will have the greatest and most immediate positive effect on your company and you?

4. Is there any one issue which stands out as being the most significant? If a top priority is not obvious, make a choice from those which you can work on without being delayed by input from others. Several topics may demand attention, but select only one – the others will have to wait.

5. Ask yourself: Why did I choose this one? Does it absolutely need to be done? Am I truly committed to following through on the conclusion which I will reach?

6. Accumulate the records and data necessary to study the problem. Talk in advance to others who can help or who hold special knowledge.

7. Block out time in a quiet environment and concentrate on the chosen subject and its possible solutions. Clear your mind and keep your focus on that particular issue only. Insulate yourself; do not allow yourself to be distracted. Depart from your usual routine – do not answer the phone, check your e-mail and voice mail, or respond to instant messaging. Ignore unrelated events around you. Communicate only with those who can give you needed input. When ready, examine your notes and come to a conclusion.

After you have practiced compartmentalizing long enough, it will become second nature. Becoming proficient in this management technique can improve your efficiency and reduce stress both at work and at home.

Related Topics

Market Topics